Why gel nails don’t gel at Novant Health.

December 21, 2021
It's no secret that hand hygiene is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of germs and potential infections. But, do you know everything there is to know about proper hand hygiene, down to the nitty gritty fingernails? Read on to learn more!
What is the best way for me to keep my hands clean at work?
According to the CDC, alcohol-based hand sanitizers with a concentration of 60% or greater are the most effective products for reducing the number of germs on healthcare providers' hands.
So I should only use hand sanitizer?
Not exactly. There are exceptions where hand hygiene with soap and water is preferred.
Head to the sink when:
  • Your hands are visibly soiled
  • There is presence of diseases transmitted by spores (C. diff, Anthrax)
  • There is presence of norovirus
  • You are on a unit where the number and placement of sanitizing dispensers is limited by the patient population on the unit (i.e., behavioral health)
How about getting the germs that hide under my fingernails
Outbreaks of infections have been linked to team members with long or artificial nails and enhancements. Artificial nails, nail extenders, nail enhancements are not permitted for team members who directly care for patients, team members who come in contact with patient care items, supplies, or food, and/or as required by the department.
Some examples include, but are not limited to: 
  • All surgical services and sterile processing department team members
  • All team members who touch a patient (RN’s, MD’s, APP’s, CNA’s, sitters, and more) 
  • All team members involved in cleaning processes & environmental services
  • All team members who prepare products for patients & supply chain
  • Food and dietary services
  • Laboratory team members: including phlebotomy as well as any persons handling patient samples or specimens
I fall into one of those categories! What's next?
Make sure your natural nails are short (no longer than a quarter of an inch) and well groomed. You can wear regular nail polish only provided that it is in good repair and can be removed with nail polish remover. Exception: Any team member scrubbing for procedures – no polish allowed. 
Are there any other guidelines I can follow?
Yes! As stated in the hand hygiene policy, team members should NOT use artificial nails, nail extenders, or nail enhancements that include, but are not limited to:


  • Acrylic nails
  • Gel nails that required “curing” with UV light
  • Silicone nails
  • Shellac
  • Signature Nail Systems (also known as SNS or dipping powder)
  • Products applied over nails
  • Bonding
  • Artificial tips or attachments
  • Wrappings, tapes or any nail enhancements, including nail jewelry
I only work in a corporate office. Do the nail guidelines apply to me?
While the policy applies to those providing direct patient care, we invite all Novant Health team members to stand together and keep our nails natural to protect one another and those we serve.
Hand hygiene is the responsibility of everyone.
  • All team members, clinical and non-clinical, & non-employee workers are responsible for adhering to appropriate hand hygiene practices.
  • Everyone must strive for 100% compliance with hand hygiene expectations when entering and exiting a patient’s room or patient setting (exam room, procedure room, lobby, etc). 
  • Everyone must encourage patient and family involvement in hand hygiene observations and will respond positively to all reminders to perform hand hygiene.